Tuesday, May 29, 2007
If you aren’t up on your wild pig history read about Hogzilla here from the Seattle Times and here fom Fox News.
At least we still have the movie to look foward to...... I’m sure it’s going to be a real blockbuster.
Seriously though, the Alabama hog is one big porker. Read the whole story here.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Finally, the last grade has been entered, the last lunch count turned in…….school is out for summer, and I’m thrilled. My list of things to do around here at Georgia On My Mind as well as History Is Elementary is a mile long and a foot thick…look for some changes, look for some blogroll additions, and look for some regular posting on everything Georgia including politics….an area I’ve neglected of late.
I don’t normally like to promote myself first around here, but since I haven’t been blogging regularly I’d like to share a few reasons why in my recent post Herding Cats and 12 Other Reasons I've Not Posted About Education Lately. In this post I share a link to my end of the year letter I share with each and every student I teach. It has become a tradition that students know about and look forward to receiving.
There’s another Georgia fourth grade teacher who also shared his end of the year gift to students this week. Terrell, over at Alone on a Limb, begins each posting with poetry. This week he shared Crystal Stair, a post that details how he provides a final farewell to his students on the last day of school.
While I’ve tried to share with you some of the reasons why I have been slow to update Georgia On My Mind, Professor Parker over at Another History Blog provides some of his reasons for not posting of late in his post Meanwhile....Back in Kennesaw.
Harriette, from South of the Gnat Line, offers Defining Middle Age. What’s your definition?
You know all women who have enjoyed the ectasy of childbirth have their own personal “birthin’ story”. We share them with each other as badges of honor that they really should be. As children of the south we also have other stories we share as badges of honor some more than others. Those of us that grew up during those days after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have a special story to tell as well and though Griftdrift’s postings run the gamut between childhood impressions of those early days of whites and blacks being in the same classroom to an exploration of the disparity of black baseball players today he really hit home with me in Innocence Lost Part I, Innocence Lost Part II, and Innocence Lost Part III. If you only have time to read one submission from this edition of the Georgia Carnival then read these offerings from Drifting Through the Grift.
Resident Alien has some news you can use about your checking account over at Life of a Resident Alien.
Recently my own pastor preached about image and idol worship. I often wonder if my blogs have become idols at certain points for me. Pastor Bill gives us 35 Sure Fire Ways to Get to the Heart from his site Provocative Church. I think we all need a bit of self-examination from time to time, and Pastor Bill has provided a plan.
During our last carnival I shared a posting from the Richmond Democrat concerning Neil Boortz. Apparently RD is now a newcomer to our state with Sweet Georgia Blue and takes on our fair haired son and former president, Jimmy Carter, as well as our own AJC. The Richmond Democrat inquires The Worst President in History?
Well, it’s summer and the readin’ is easy! One of my sweeties at school surprised me this morning with a $25 online gift card to Amazon. I can’t wait to go shopping later and spend it. Otter from Grasping for the Wind challenges us to take some chances on new reading material in his post New Notions 5 Reading Challenge-- -Join Now!. The goal here is to challenge your thinking on any topic. I believe this is a worthy undertaking for everyone. You can join anytime during the summer and there’s already several people signed up. Great idea, Otter!
Georgia Photos has some great pics of Historic Homes of Adairsville posted by Stephen. He also provides us with another perspective of Mudslinging in Georgia. You politicos need to go and take a gander….
Button Gwinnett of Liberal Lucidity fame asks, “Dogfighting? What's the Problem?.
Finally, this is Memorial Day weekend and we should remember that it’s not about a cookout, a swim, or a trip to the beach. Our Miss Vickie who is Beyond the Crossroads shares A Memorial Day Post With a Little Help.
The next edition of the carnival will be found here two weeks from today. Posts can be sent to email@example.com or use the handy submission form.
Thanks for your continued support of the Georgia Carnival!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Things have been difficult in elementary world. I am anxiously awaiting the end of the year (Friday), so that I can get caught up in many, many other areas especially posts about "Old Smokey" as Georgia is rapidly becoming known. After spending time outside yesterday with students my hair smelled as if the playground had been on fire. It's amazing to me the smoke from the fires so far south of Atlanta have reached this far north.
The Georgia Carnival will be up sometime this Friday. A few posts have already been submitted, and more are welcome. Send the url of the post you are submitting to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, May 11, 2007
If you have a website and are interested in hosting an edition of The Georgia Carnival, please let me know via this email address: email@example.com.
Thanks for visiting our worthy participants in this edition and leaving thought provoking comments. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the last edition. As always links to the carnival are much appreciated.
The next edition of the carnival will be found here two weeks from today. Posts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the handy submission form.
This carnival has some regular participants, however, I’m pleased to announce we also have five new participants, one who has returned after a little absence, and one visiting participant.
As always any Georgia blogger is welcome to participate by submitting their own blog post or nominating a post from someone else.
On to the carnival…
Are there good reasons to move on from your church and look elsewhere? From Bill, at Provocative Church we have Shuffling the Deck.
Oh my! Splitcat Chintzibobs from The Ohoopee Letter News has gone camping. Read all about it with his latest submission titled Camping With the Chintzibobs: How Spring Broke The Tent, Part 1.
Need a connection between the Conderate Navy and Steve Spurrier? Jason Kirk over at Brick Cheney writes an interesting piece titled Let It Burn.
Check out the Augusta Observer for news and views of where else? Augusta!
Resident Alien over at Life of a Resident Alien wants to share with us Shopping at Costco the Frugal Way. It that possible?
I’m here to tell you that if you want to get a group of school children to pay absolute attention to you for an entire class period then discuss the Titantic. They get so wrapped up in all the stories about the doomed ocean liner. John over at Grasping For the Wind shares his recent trip to see the Titantic exhibit in his post titled Titantic: The Artifact Exhibition.
Over at No Credit Needed NCN shares Using My Emergency Fund to Buy a Car (How to Buy a $10,000 Car for $7800!). This is quite an interesting blog about personal finance, debt repayment, living on a budget, and personal finance.
Who doesn’t want to discover their own true purpose? Head on over to read a post by Moses over at Three Sticks titled My Ministry-Part 1-Origin.
Ok, so The Richmond Democrat isn’t a Georgia blog…..I included this entry simply because of the subject of the posting……The Richmond Democrat says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Neil Boortz”. He’s riled up over some comments Uncle Neil made about the terrible events regarding the sorrowful events at Virginia Tech. Boortz riles everyone up at one time or another about something, but if you think he crossed the line in his recent comments about Virginia Tech head on over and discuss it with The Richmond Democrat.
There you have it….many thanks to all the particpants and look for our new participants to be added to the Georgia Blogroll shortly.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
When I was pursuing my teaching degree I did some research on charter schools. At that time the idea was very new and very little research had been completed regarding their success or failure. While many charters exist today they are still treated as the step-child of education. and many educators remain ignorant of what a charter is or isn’t.
Atlanta City Schools has operated charter schools since 1999. They were authorized to operate on a performance based contract to serve students who reside within the city of Atlanta. Charles R. Drew Charter School is one of the oldest holding their charter for the last seven years.
Each charter school has its own non-profit governing board and recruits, selects, and hires staff for the day-to-day operations of the school. Charter school educational programs, curriculum, and instructional methods vary. Each charter school’s daily, weekly, or yearly schedule may be the same or different from Atlanta Public Schools. You can see the entire text at the Atlanta City Schools website.
Within the last few days WSB-TV ran a two part story regarding one particular Atlanta charter called Achievement Academy of Atlanta. The school has been in existence for the last four years. You can access the video for the news story here.
Yes, Achievement Academy has had problems in their short history with money mismanagement…..I don’t know all the details, however, their students consistently outscore their regular pubic school counterparts on standardized testing, and it would seem parents are supportive of the school even though there is currently a pending lawsuit between the charter and the school system.
As I watched the story I really zeroed in on the reporter’s (Richard Belcher) comments regarding the differences between Achievement Academy and the regular public schools students will be forced to return to if the school system has its way and shuts down the charter. Students will have to return to a more chaotic environment that consistently performs poorly with regards to academics and a higher number of discipline issues as well.
What is the magic ingredient these charters have over their counterparts?
Are the administrators and instructors at the charters better educated, more knowledgeable regarding instructional practices, or just simply better at keeping middle school temperaments in check? No, the faculty at these schools can be compared to any school across the city. A mixed group of individuals…some at the end of long careers, some in the middle, and some just beginning with varying degrees of license and credentials.
Do the charters have access to better facilities, newer educational materials, or use top-notch educational reform models? No, not necessarily. Many charters receive a set amount of money each year just like any other school and they must allocate it following the same formulas. Many times charters are housed in older schools that might not have been in use for awhile. The news report referred to the fact that Achievement Academy had been forced to move from a great location to one of poorer quality. Many times charters are housed in storefront locations or other non-traditional type buildings.
Ok…..then it must be the money. Charter schools receive generous amounts of money because we all know that throwing money at education solves all ills. Please don’t tell me you buy into this bunk…
Nope….it’s not a better prepared or educated faculty. It’s not better facilities, brand new textbooks, or a state of the art building.
The magic ingredient is very simple. It’s simple dedication and responsibility on the part of students and most importantly….the parents.
Unfortunately I could not access a website for Achievement Academy, however, I did access the website for another Atlanta City Schools charter……Atlanta Charter Middle School. I found the magic ingredient right there on their website and I bet you a Varsity slaw dog, an order of onion rings and a fried peach pie that Achievement Academy has the same magic ingredient.
Parents who apply to have their children attend most charter schools must abide by the rules of the school. They must sign an agreement. Many times as in the case of Atlanta Charter Middle School the student must sign an agreement as well. Here are some of the requirements parents agree to…..
*parents must donate 15 to 10 hours of volunteer service to the school
*parents must participate in one main fundraising event and one grade level event
*parents must respond to messages received from the school
*parents must have their child at school each day by 8:30 a.m. ready to learn
*parents must check homework assignments, assist with need service projects, and make sure students read 30 minutes each day
*parents must notify the school of any change of address, phone number, or family status
You can see the full text of the agreement here.
If parents don’t live up to the contract students can be removed from the school.
In a regular public educational environment that option isn’t there except in extreme circumstances and only after numerous situations have occurred over several years….not weeks or months.
Many school systems have parent contracts like the one I describe above including the school system where I teach. The difference is that these charters actually have the authority to enforce it, and the parents and students know it. Each year I am required to send home a parent/student/teacher compact and I am required to show to school administrators that I have had 100% compliance. The sad thing is I’ve never had 100% compliance. I receive nasty notes from parents who are appalled that we might ask them to do some of the things mentioned above. Many simply ignore my pleas to return it. I have never had an administrator refer to the compact when we are conferencing with a violent or truant student. The compact certainly is never brought up when discussing a student who refuses to complete an assignment.
I firmly believe holding parents and students accountable in the education process is the magic ingredient, however, most American schools keep drinking the same Kool-aid. They continue to chant schools fail, administrators fail, and teachers fail. Yes, there are problems and blame should be given where it is due, however, until we begin to encourage and invite parents to be accountable in the process the educational success we all hope for remain just out of reach.